Ditch the guilt and panic for festive fun
((Photograph by Amanda Thuell))
‘Twas the Wednesday before Christmas and all was quiet in the gym. Not a person in the squat rack, not a treadmill in use and alone, in the corner, lay a neat pile of untouched dumbbells just waiting to be used.
If you’re a regular gym goer, perhaps this story sounds familiar?
For a lot of us, mid-December means motivation to workout is about zero, time to hit the gym is practically non-existent, your clothes are starting to feel a little tighter thanks to non-stop parties, and just when you thought you were safe, yet another plate of mince pies suddenly appears out of nowhere.
As a trainer, I despair a little at this time of year. Not because I don’t love cheesy Christmas music — I unashamedly do. And neither is it because I’m frustrated that no one seems to be able to stick to a training plan.
In fact, it’s because most people unnecessarily panic and fail to see the bigger picture, that Christmas celebrations and all the indulgent ‘naughty food’ that comes with it, are not typically part of your everyday lifestyle.
In this column over the last year, you’ve heard me preach the 80-20 rule: that if you commit to working on living a fit, healthy lifestyle 80 per cent of the time, you can afford to be more flexible with your choices the other 20 per cent. In essence, it’s what you do the most, most of the time, that counts and will determine the true state of your health, your level of fitness and the shape of your body.
So out of 52 weeks of the year, relaxing and going off your usual fitness and nutrition plan for two to three weeks is not a deal breaker that’s going to derail your long-term progress.
Yes, you may put on a few pounds, but honestly, it’s not the end of the world.
I know, that makes me sound like a terrible trainer. How dare I utter such fitness blasphemy? I should be forced to turn in my leg warmers, hand over my neon sweatbands and be banished to the pile of has-been aerobics instructors with everyone else from the 1980s.
But what I believe is the healthiest attitude to take at this time of year, is one of acceptance.
Accept that Christmas is a time to relax a little and feast a bit (however, be real, total gluttony is rarely a good idea).
The last thing I want you to feel is guilt and panic every time another roast potato lands on your plate. Nor do I want you to feel as though all the exercise and healthy eating you did earlier in the year has been a waste of time.
My advice is get active when and where you can: squeeze in a quick workout here, a walk there, a few squats whilst you’re waiting for the turkey to cook, it all helps. Yet, if it really is impossible to fit in, don’t beat yourself up.
Probably the most important thing you can do, is be confident in your ability to get back on track in the New Year, and recommit now to working on and living your normal fit and healthy lifestyle as soon as the festive season has passed.
If we put things into perspective, taking care of your body is an ongoing journey for life. It’s one with many ups and downs, and we’re all on it to learn and enjoy the ride no matter what stage we’re at. So enjoy this part of the journey just as much as any other.
With that said, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a fit, happy and healthy New Year.
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